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Solving the Puzzle: DMS, RMS Or ECM

Posted on the 25 September 2012 by Mail2hemant @ecmwise
Solving the puzzle: DMS, RMS or ECM With the growing notion of Green IT and the need to achieve paperless office drives companies to look for an IT system which can help them reduce the paper usage in office, while increasing users productivity by the way of converting and managing papers in electronic form.
The job to identify and implement such a system often gets assigned to the IT department, which then reaches out to various IT vendors to evaluate their solutions. Each vendor today refers their solutions using different terminologies confusing the IT managers or the business decision makers and throws a unique challenge in front of them to first decide on what exactly are they looking for, a DMS, RMS or a full-blown ECM?
While the first might be dirt cheap, the later might require deep pockets to acquire, implement and maintain.While not one size fits all, its important to first zero down on the type of solution an organization is looking for and then invite the right vendors to demonstrate their product features, implementation capabilities and future support (I'll talk about the methodology to evaluate vendors in my next article).
Here is the list of few common abbreviation used commonly in IT industry to achieve electronic storage and management of papers, which might be helpful for organizations to pick the right title for the solution they require:
Few common abbreviations
  • DMS: Document Management System
  • EDMS: Electronic Document Management System
  • RMS: Records Management System
  • CMS: Content Management System
  • ECM: Enterprise Content Management
  • WDMS: Workflow and Document Management System
  • CDMS: Compliance and document management system
  • DCS: Document Control System
Though some of the abbreviations listed above might sound very similar and refer to similar characteristics, it's important to understand the narrow difference between them and identify the right solution for your business needs.
I'll try to briefly explain the basic characteristics of these terminologies and the narrow difference between them:
DMS: A DMS is often referred to a system which manages electronic documents like office documents, pdf and images, having basic library functions like add/edit/delete document, check-in/check-out, versioning, audit trails etc.
Examples: Microsoft SharePoint, Newgen Omnidocs
EDMS: An EDMS is not very different from DMS, though it specifically narrwos down the defination by adding the 'electronic' word into it. This terms is more practically used while referring to the need of a basic document management system.
Examples: Microsoft SharePoint, EMC Documentum, OpenText
RMS: Records Management System is expected to be the enhanced version of DMS, which also offers records management features, wherein users can declare certain documents as 'formal records' of the organization, archive them for a period on it for meeting the regulatory and compliance requirements.
Examples: HP TRIM

CMS: Though the CMS terminology is supposed to be used for a system which manages any type content, including office documents, emails and fax etc, but more practically this terms is being used for small web content management systems which are used to develop content rich web portals.
Examples: Joomla, WordPress and Drupal.
ECM: Enterprise Content Management suite is expected to provide end-to-end content management capabilities including content capture, managing the content of any type including office documents, drawings, emails, fax, application contents, Workflow/BPM, records management, archival and compliance.
Gartner considers the following as the core components of ECM suite:
  • Document Management
  • Web Content Management
  • Records Management
  • Image Processing Applications
  • Social Content 
  • Workflow/BPM
Examples: EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, OpenText
WDMS: Workflow and document management system is coined to best emphasize on two key requirements of system - Workflow and Document Management. Though you might plug-in records management and WCM features later on, but the basic objective of system is very much defined in one word -WDMS.
Examples: Microsoft SharePoint, OpenText, IBM FileNet, EMC Documentum 
WCM: Web Content Management refers to the content management system using which organizations can build and manage large complex website having authoring and publishing controls.
Examples: Sitecore, Fatwire, SDL, Autonomy, Oracle Webcenter
CDMS: The C stands for compliance feature added to the document management capabilities, which refers to the need of complying with govt. regulations. Such a system is very much useful and in demand in pharmaceutical and healthcare companies due to strict regulatory requirements to comply with industry standards like HIPPA during drug trials.
Examples: FirstDoc from CSC (Built on EMC Documentum)
DCS: Document Control system, a more generic term used primarily in engineering companies, which refers to the requirement of publishing the documents to users in controlled fashion after a thorough review and approval by respective users.
Examples: Mclaren Engineering Document Management, Bentley Systems

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